Monday, January 30, 2012

Ginger Liqueur

Photo via Kirst
Ginger is one of the greatest things you can put in a drink. I know I’ve mentioned my love of whiskey gingers before (and it’s kind of part of how Kirst and I became such good friends). I saw this recipe before the holidays and thought there’s a great idea for presents. And, as a bonus, I made twice as much as the recipe called for an ended up with a whole jar to myself. It was quickly added to many hot toddies. I was waiting to post this until all the gifts had been given out and I had to wait on the last one which I just recently gave away to Corey and Brian after they finally got settled here in Portland. This is super, super delicious and really easy and makes for a really good gift, no matter the time of year.

Ginger Liqueur from Serious Eats:

Makes about 2 cups

2 oz. ginger root
1 vanilla bean
1 c. sugar
1½ c. water
1 orange
1½ c. brandy
Peel the ginger and cut it into thin slices. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Bring the ginger, vanilla, sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until ginger is soft—about 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool. Do not strain yet.  
Zest the orange and place the zest only in a sealable glass container along with the syrup and brandy. Seal and shake, then let this mixture steep for one day. After one day, remove the vanilla bean and let the mixture steep for an additional day.

Strain mixture through a coffee filter into your bottle or jar for storage. This is where it can get a little complicated. You need to remove all of the debris via a mesh strainer and then let it go through the filter to make it a clear liquid. I decided not to and just removed the heavy pieces. I like the vanilla flavor a lot and the little flecks of vanilla bean were not a problem for me. Let it sit for one more day before using to let flavors mellow.

This is fantastic tasting by itself, but it really does add some incredible flavor to your other favorite drinks. Ginger fans all around will love this and even if you’re not super into ginger, I’d recommend it.

I’ll be posting about my other two homemade gifts this week (and that will explain the canning pot in the second photo), though unfortunately I did not take photos of the process for either and ate my parts too quickly for the end results too. BUT! They are both really wonderful and I think you can take my word for it. I may even get testimonials to prove my point.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stuffed Squash with Quinoa

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but Portland has been having some lame weather. Pouring rain, 14 seconds of snow (I miss snow!), and then more rain. This is the kind of dish for those days. It’s hearty and warm and can be easily vegan without the cheese. I love cheese, but if you don’t, go ahead and not use it. That makes more for me!

Stuffed Squash with Quinoa:

Serves 2

One acorn squash (or your favorite type)
1 c. uncooked quinoa
1 bunch chard chopped, stems removed and set aside
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
1½ c-ish broccoli
Olive oil
Your favorite herbs for seasoning (I used thyme, oregano, and rosemary)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Goat cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Cut squash in half [edited to add: scoop out any seeds and extra gunk before baking] and place face down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Set aside and allow to cool. Leave oven on.

While the squash is baking, prepare quinoa. Add quinoa and 2 cups of water to a medium size pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Fluff and mix in 1 clove of garlic, salt, pepper, and some herbs and goat cheese, if using. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a large skillet and toss in chard stems, broccoli, and remaining garlic and cook over medium heat until stems are slightly soft. Add in chard leaves and cook until wilted and reduced. Mix in herbs.  Add in quinoa and mix together thoroughly. Set aside.
Once squash has cooled enough to touch, flip over and add in some parmesan cheese, if using. Fill squash halves with the chard-quinoa mixture and top with additional parmesan. Return squash to oven until cheese is melted, 2-3 minutes. There will likely be some of the mixture remaining. Eat that while the squash is back in the oven.

This will fill your belly and make you happy. [Edited to add: scrape up the squash with your filling to get a complete and tasty bite.]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Oh man, remember when you were eating lots of pumpkin pie and other pumpkin related things? Did you make delicious and spicy pumpkin seeds? I did. And then totally didn’t blog about it. So here you go friends! Hopefully this will help you out in the future because they were very, very good.

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from Serious Eats:

1½ c. pumpkin seeds
2 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop out the inside of your pumpkin, and separate seeds from pulp. Don't worry if there's a little pulp left on the seeds when you roast them—it only adds flavor. Just remove the biggest pieces so that the seeds are easy to toss.

In a bowl, toss the seeds with the oil, coating thoroughly. Add salt and seasonings. Spread seeds in one even layer across a greased baking sheet (or you can use a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil).
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown. Stir the seeds every so often while they're baking, so that they toast evenly. Cool and serve. And see how long they last (hint: not very.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Want something maybe a little different to go with your Sunday supper? Try spanakopita. It looks much more difficult than it actually is, tastes wonderful, and looks pretty darn cool. Don’t do Sunday supper? Make this anyway. Don’t have enough feta or spinach? Do what I did a sub in some yummy chard and ricotta. It will all be delicious in the end. Even cold for breakfast.

Spanakopita from The New Moosewood Cookbook:

Makes about 8 servings

2 Tb. olive oil plus a little more for the pan
2 c. minced onion
½ tsp. salt
1 Tb. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2½ lb. fresh spinach, stemmed and finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced (or 6 or 7 or 9. Whatever.)
3 Tb. flour
2-3 c. crumbled feta cheese, about 1 lb.
1 c. cottage cheese
Black pepper, to taste
1/3 c. olive oil
1 lb. phyllo pastry, 16 to 20 leaves, thoroughly defrosted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13” baking pan.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet. Add onion, salt, and herbs, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add the spinach, turn up the heat, and cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Sprinkle in the flour, stir, and cook over medium heat 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Mix in the cheese, then correct the seasonings, adding black pepper to taste along the way.

Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan, letting the pastry edges climb up the side. Brush it all over with olive oil, then add another sheet. Keep going until you have a stack of 10 oiled sheets. Don’t let it creep too high up the edge or it’ll crumble a lot if you try to transport it.

Add the filling, spreading it evenly to the edges. Continue layering and oiling the remaining phyllo on top of the filling. Oil the top layer. Gently with a serrated knife in a sawing motion cut the unbaked spanakopita into squares. Bake uncovered for about 45 minues, or until golden and crispy. Serve hot or warm.
Phyllo gets kind of a bad rap because it can be difficult to work with and dry out quickly. You just have to be faster. This was not that difficult to put together and it was tasty for days afterward. Give it a try.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Jan. 12, 2012

(I've been drinking a lot of tea while Corey and Brian have been staying here. I'm drinking tea right now, actually)
Good thing I didn't make a resolution to post more this year because I am clearly failing at that. And I don't even have school as an excuse anymore! But I've been working and doing stuff and junk. I know I have at least one new reader, though, so here's another TILT and I'll try to get those lingering posts from last year up. No promises though!

Sweet Addendum - 51 Ways to Kill a Twinkie: The always lovely CakeSpy made an addition to her fantastic post and it was even talked about on CNN. The Randy Newman loop one is probably my favorite.

Chicken and Egg - A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes: Though I may never have my own chickens, I flipped through this book recently and I'm all for memoirs with recipes. This should be a requirement for everyone writing a memoir - even if it has nothing to do with cooking. Political memoir? Recipes. Do it.

And while we're going on about eggs, apparently Scotch eggs are going to be popular this year. Or trendy. Whatever, either way that cracks me up and makes me think about Keith of The Office (UK version). 
(recipe here)
What is an Orange?: Posted for the rad orange slice photo and the citrus venn diagram.

New Seasons Market Announces Eliot Neighborhood Store: Yes! A thousand times yes! This might not be happening until next year, but this is so close to me! I love the heck outta New Seasons, so nothing about this is bad news.
Awful Library Books - Be Bold with Bananas: Yiiikes! Just check out the last shot of this. My goodness. So funny!

Pictures of the Day - Coffee Splash: The photographer claims this is not done through dropping liquid into the cup, but the end result is amazing. I can imagine a lot of coffee splashes and stains were needed to get the end result.

Speaking of coffee, you better be making Folger's or your husband will be a coffee jerk. Please watch both videos as they are hilarious!
Coolest Tom Kha Presentation Ever (via me)
I'm also loving: chocolaty teas, green teas, lemony teas, how much my kettle is on, tea, tea, & more tea (did I mention I've been drinking a lot of tea?); the Mcobb salad at Tin Shed (why has no one told me about this before?!); fabulous family dinners with BriCor; "po-ta-toes!"; horseradish cream; going away/last day brownies; sushi while watching the Blazers almost win; seriously, do you know how much tea I've been drinking?; apple sauce in steel cut oats.

What are you loving this week? 

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


It's 2012 y'all! Isn't that amazing? If you are like me, perhaps you indulged a bit on New Years Eve. If you do that and then stay up really late, you'll probably get hungry. And if you're a lucky duck in Juneau, Alaska (or the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle or in Bellingham) you can fill up that need with an order of pel'meni. Unfortunately I don't live in any of those places, so not too long ago, Aaron and I decided it was high time that we made our own. Once you get addicted to that stuff, you just need to have it. And it's the perfect end of the night food. Or whenever, really. Aaron found this recipe (or one very similar. We can't remember.) and we made it ourselves and it was wonderful.
A note of caution, before you start. Remember the photo of my rings I included with this post? That is what I usually do with them when working with doughs so they don't get all messy. This dough was really sticky. Like really, really sticky. I had to yank it out of the stand mixer because it was just not behaving. I took off my rings part way through, rather carelessly, and the entire counter was covered in a ton of flour. See picture above for how messy I and everything else got. Fast forward to the next day and I realize that my rings aren't on. So I check the counter and they are not there. My only thought is that crap, they got swept up into the sink. And we've been using it a lot since then. Aaron takes apart the sink and the garbage disposal. Can't find them. He digs through the garbage and the compost. Still not found. We get really sad. I start to resign myself to the idea that I might have to get a new ring. We go to the store where he bought my engagement ring to see if we can get a replacement (turns it out it's only for the stone, not the whole deal). I am very sad. Later Aaron is rearranging the fridge and he lifts up the carton of eggs and plink, plink, my rings fall off of it. Yeah. They got stuck to the bottom of the egg carton while we were working on the recipe. SO! If you wear rings, PUT THEM SOMEWHERE SAFE!

And now, to the recipe. We also made a potato filling, not included in the recipe, because I love the potato ones. As such, we reduced the meat filling by half. The sauce was from delicious memory.

Pel'Meni modified from

Serves 4 with leftovers

210 ml cold water
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
400 gram flour (see note of caution. I used a lot more to unsticky this stuff)

Meat Filling-
¼ lb beef ground
¼ lb pork ground
½ medium onion, chopped
Salt, pepper,and spices to taste

Potato Filling-
1 large potato
Hunk of butter
Dried dill, to taste

Equal parts sriracha and rice vinegar
Melted butter

Curry powder
Sour Cream
Bread slices

To make your dough, sift flour and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Make a dimple in the top and crack the egg into that. Adding the cold water gradually, knead the dough vigorously 15-20 minutes. Add in enough flour until it stops sticking to absolutely everything. This might take awhile. Set aside while you get your fillings together.

To make the meat filling, mix together all of the ingredients and set aside. To make the potato filling, peel and chop one large potato. Boil in a pot of water until fork tender. Mash with butter until slightly creamy and mix in dried dill to taste. Set aside.

While the potato mixture is cooling, get your dough ready for assembly. Roll the dough into a long snake. At about one inch intervals, cut the snake into balls. Roll these balls into circles. Then add a teaspoon of filling to the center of the circle, pull over the sides, and pinch the edges down firmly. Curl in the corners of the half circle and pinch together.

Get a large amount of water boiling. When at a vigorous boil, drop them in. They are ready after they float at the top for 3-4 minutes. Pull them out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Mix together sriracha and rice vinegar, enough to lightly coat four orders. Make it as spicy as you like.If you've had pel'meni before, you'll know when it's right. Melt enough butter in a skillet over medium heat to cook all of the pel'meni in. Cook until they are all buttered up and add into the sriacha and rice vinegar mixture. Spoon into individual bowls. Sprinkle on curry powder and some cilantro. Serve with a slice of bread (rye preferred, but we had challah here) and enough sour cream to have a little with every bite.
These were not exactly the same as what I've had in Juneau, but they were close enough without actually being in styrofoam and without me being surrounded by drunks. Aaron and I are definitely going to make these again. I'll just stick my rings in a box upstairs. And maybe put some caution tape around it.
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